• Kat O'Sullivan

6th Stage of Coronavirus-induced grief . . . are you feeling it yet?


When I came across the Kubler-Ross stages of grief again, it was one of those Aha! moments. It helped me put names to all those uncomfortable feelings I was having. While these stages of grief are typically thought of in the context of the loss of a loved one, it can apply to any form of loss. And 2020 has been filled with many different forms of loss. From loss of a job, loss of certainty, loss of financial security, loss of the familiar, and of course many people have lost their health and their loved ones. It can be overwhelming, and at times, immobilizing.


If you can relate, you're not alone. Many clinicians have reframed this as "Coronavirus-induced grief." And for good reason. These feelings have been experienced by everyone I've talk with, in many different ways. This has created a collective grieving process. One that can't be ignored.


Self-care and supporting your people has never been more important. It starts with a mindset of care and compassion, for yourself and others.

Here are key ways to do demonstrate you care:

  1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOU GET IT: Meet them where they are. Let them know they're not alone! Recognize that everyone deals with grief differently, and that's OK. This is NOT a linear process. We can be all over the place, the same day even.

  2. CREATE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT: Replace any judgment with curiosity -- no "shoulds" allowed. Listen intently, at 3 levels -- for what, how, and why they are sharing. Ask open-ended questions to gain deeper understanding.

  3. TAKE THE NEED FOR COMMUNICATIONS EVEN MORE SERIOUSLY: Be truthful. Be timely, Be thankful.

They've added a 6th stage of grief and it's our opportunity to find 'meaning' in all we're experiencing. It's almost inevitable that we will revisit the other 5 Stages from time to time. Reflecting on all we've learned and how we've grown will help us find meaning.


Let's embrace this 6th Stage and lean into 2021 with a new or renewed sense of purpose.

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